21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."
23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
24He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
25The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
26He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
27"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
crumbs. left behind. swept up. cleaned up. emptied in the trash. scraps not wanted. when i'm too full and i don't finish my food, the rest becomes discarded scraps and crumbs. i certainly have enough. can't really say i've ever wondered where my next meal would come from. it's not that i've grown up with excess, but enough. just enough.
in the passage above we find a Canaanite woman in need. willing to take crumbs... to eat off the floor in order to get what she needed. desperate would be a soft word to describe her state. she needed something and she knew that only Jesus could give it to her. and so she persistently pursued the prince of peace. she clung to hope like a child clings to his security blanket. she would not take no for an answer. she had that much belief.
here is the interesting thing: she was from the land of Canaan... not an Israelite... not a Jew. she was from the 'other side of the tracks'. perhaps forgotten. she had no tradition in need of a Messiah, at least not in the same way as the Jews. She had no reason to even know about this Jesus guy. She had no reason to believe in Him and his power and might. for her to believe would have been a literal step of faith. her people did not seem to have a need for Jesus (at this time, at least.)
But she believed. in something... someone greater than herself... greater than all!
the disciples tried to shoo her away. they didn't want her to invade their community. didn't want to let her in. she was different. not like them. (sounds like the church, sometimes, doesn't it?) Even Jesus seems to cast her off and pay no attention to her. perhaps he did this for a reason though. Gentiles and Jews did not always see eye to eye nor did they often associate with one another.
Perhaps Jesus was quick with her at first - saying that he came only to save the Israelites... knowing full well that this woman would be persistent and not go away. maybe this was a teachable moment for the disciples. Jesus allows the great faith of this woman to be shown in its full beauty.
she didn't ask for much. but showed great faith. sought out Jesus. found him and never stopped believing. What an example that was right then and there - set for the disciples and for us, even today.
We have too much. we don't realize our need for God. we would never ask for crumbs. we want a buffet. but this woman's great faith and humility was a sign of a true follower. as a result, she was willing to eat the scraps... and her sick daughter was then healed by the One.
in what ways do you lack true believe because you have too much?
what can you do to learn to trust God more? what are you willing to give up in order to grow your faith?
how could you model the example of the Canaanite woman in your daily life?
crumbs from your table. - u2
(from Q Magazine November 2004): "I went to speak to Christian fundamentalist groups in America to convince them to give money to fight AIDS in Africa. It was like getting blood from a stone. I told them about a hospice in Uganda where so many people were dying they had to sleep three to a bed. Sister Anne, who I mention in the song, works at that hospice. Her office is a sewer." ~Bono